Amazon (AMZN) started the mainstream movement toward the use of e-books with its Kindle product. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the huge online commerce operation should be honored that Google (GOOG) and Sony (SNE) are getting into the same business.
According to The Wall Street Journal, "in a strike against Amazon's Kindle electronic book reader, Sony and Google plan to launch a partnership that will give users of the Sony Reader device access to more than half a million public domain books from Google's ambitious book digitization project."A second product in the market may help determine whether books that can be read on a portable electronic screen is a way to make real money. When one company enters a business and does moderately well, it can often be a fluke. The Kindle is enjoying growing adoption, but not at the rate of the most successful consumer electronics devices like the iPod. It is still open to question whether the product will eventually be "mainstream."
The Sony deal with Google will be telling. If the market cannot support two products, then the future of the portable reader will be in question. The e-book is not much of a success yet -- a small market rarely supports two large competitors.